Press Release
September 14, 2019

Statement of Senator Joel Villanueva on Bureau of Immigration's raid in Pasig where 277 Chinese nationals were arrested

The arrest of 277 Chinese nationals at a building in Pasig City by immigration agents in one fell swoop reinforces our long-held assertion that criminals have quietly slipped into our shores because of our government's lack of decisive action to regulate offshore gaming operations or POGOs. This incident is a clear indication of how PAGCOR, the erstwhile state gambling regulator, continues to fail in its mandate to maintain checks in this sector that, to our mind, has brought more harm than good.

The presence of representatives of the Chinese embassy in the raid shows how serious is their government in hunting down fugitives. We have heard the Chinese government's call to stop the operations of POGOs in the country as gambling is illegal in their nation. Any supposed benefits from this sector are fruits of a poisoned tree.

For as long as POGOs are allowed to remain and operate in our country, our law enforcement agencies and labor regulators will keep on playing the cat-and-mouse game of hunting, arresting, and deporting undesirable aliens away from our country. The problem with this is that money used to finance these operations can be put to better use if only the government deals with the problem with the same passion and intensity as its campaign against illegal drugs and corruption.

We will press on with our public inquiry into the POGO sector to determine the breadth of its scale, as well as to establish once and for all its supposed benefits and ill effects into Philippine society. As it stands, the setup of POGOs is fertile ground for illicit activities such as money laundering, and its continuing presence here entices fugitives from China to secure safe haven here in our country.

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